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New reading challenge: 32 owned, unread books

A bookshelf chock full of books arranged mostly in rainbow order. In the center of the bookshelf is a Sonos.
What my bookshelf looked like in January 2022. Not to worry, this is not all unread books.

I have a lot of unread books on my shelves. Believe it or not, I’ve downsized quite a bit over the years, but it still stresses me out to have that physical backlog just a glance away.

It’s not like this for everyone: for some, having plenty unread books at hand gives them a feeling of abundance. I mentioned my unread book guilt to my book club friends, and they looked at me like I had 8 heads. Noted!

For me, though, I would love to get to a place where I have a short queue of unread books, maybe 3–5 of them. If I want something new to read, the library or a book store is easily available to me.

The reading challenge

Rather than setting an “x number of books read” goal in 2023, I’m challenging myself to read 32 owned, unread books.

A few parameters:

  • I’m going to start now.
  • It can take however long it takes…
  • …but, I would like to have read 24 books by end of 2023.
  • I don’t have to finish every book I start. If I’m not feeling it, and don’t particularly care to pick the book back up again, I can donate or sell it.

A reward

I’ve decided for once to treat myself when I complete the challenge. There’s a fancy fountain pen I have my eye on, in a higher price bracket than the $30 pens I’ve allowed myself to buy. That is the reward I’ll be working towards! In addition to a more spacious bookshelf.

Wish me luck!

I’m going to start this challenge off with “Heart Berries” by Terese Marie Mailhot (disclosure), then finish up the first volume of Lord of the Rings.

What are your active or upcoming reading goals?

Edit, 2022.12.20: I made a reading challenge on The StoryGraph if you’d like to join in on reading your backlog!


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  • Reply from Abibliophobia on

    @melanie @thestorygraph Oooh I’m in! My 2023 reading goal is to put a dent in my TBR pile (most of which are owned)!
  • Reply from The StoryGraph on

    @melanie I just checked my Owned Books stats in the app...I might need to join your challenge! 👀
  • Reply from Melanie Richards on

    @Abibliophobia @thestorygraph yessss, happy reading! 🙌
  • Reply from Melanie Richards on

    @thestorygraph TIL there’s all sorts of cool charts in the “owned books” view! 🤩